Terrorism: The Bush track leads into the wilderness

Politics in the Pub at The Elephant and WheelbarrowHotel, Fortitude Valley 3/3/2003

Tonight I wish to put forward six propositions:

  • War waged by nation states is more violent than non-State terrorism.
  • War waged by nation states often sustains violence for decades.
  • Terrorism is the crime of the relatively powerless.
  • War is the crime of the powerful.War, deprivation and injustice causes terrorism rather than the reverse.
  • And if we want to end terrorism we must be prepared to forsake war, injustice and gross inequality.

Proposition (1)

War waged by nation states is more violent than non-State terrorism

Whether it was the Spanish conquistadors genocide in the Americas, King Leopold’s slaughter of 8 million people in the first decade of the Belgium Congo, the US war on Native Americans, British / Australian genocide of Indigenous people here, Dresden, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, the bombing and defoliation of Vietnam – THIS IS STATE VIOLENCE.

Pilger quotes researchers Herman & O’Sullivan who suggest that State terror has resulted in the deaths of over 2,500,000 people since 1965.Professor David Kennedy of Stanford University ( Background Briefing 30/12/2001) said that at least since the second world war the US has systematically attacked civilian targets rather than troops in order to weaken the resolve of troops to fight. The Blitzkrieg on Baghdad  will be no different – it too will be a war crime.

Proposition (2)

War waged by nation states often sustains violence for decades

The US in the first Gulf War in 1991 intentionally destroyed much of the sanitation infrastructure and left over 300 tons of depleted uranium and other hazardous chemicals on Iraq’s soil. Following that war there has been a12 year blockade of Iraq.

Arundhati Roy in The Algebra of Infinite Justice asks “How many dead Iraqis will it take to make the world a better place?” The half a million or so Iraqi children who have died as a result of US-enforced United Nations economic sanctions since 1991 is apparently still not enough for some — Madelaine Albright, former US ambassador to the UN said “the price is worth it” in 1996. Political inflation has upped the cost and now it will take hundreds of thousands more Iraqi lives.

British Playwright Harold Pinter at Turin in November2002 said “ The US believes that the deaths in New York are the only deaths that count…. They are American deaths. Other deaths are unreal, abstract, of no consequence.

The same day the planes flew into the world towers and the Pentagon killing 2,500 people the 2 millionth person in the war in Southern Sudan died. Each day 40,000 people in the world die of malnutrition.

Sanctions are killing more people in the post Cold War period than weapons of mass destruction. Sanctions are imposed by Nation states.

Proposition (3)

Non-State terrorism is the crime of the relatively powerless

If anyone doubts this just consider two recent events:

  • Chechen rebels held hundreds of civilians hostage inside the Moscow Opera House (killing one) the Russian President Vladimir Putin was quick to authorise the use of calming gas to subdue them resulting the death of over 300 people including all the Chechens.
  • The current Palestinian Intafada began because the Palestinians were frustrated at their lack of progress at the Peace talks and Israel’s refusal to end the Occupation. There is much the publicity given to Palestinian suicide bombing. Yet Israeli military forces have slaughtered at least 5 times as many Palestinians as Palestinians have killed Jewish Israelis.

Proposition (4)

War is the crime of the powerful

Forget the film Black Hawk Down the reality was that 10,000 Somali’s trying to oppose the US agenda were killed by the US Military in 10 months. This was supposedly a peace making operation.

Two days after September the 11th 2001 I wrote:

The enemy is everywhere

Star Wars will save us.
The armed forces will save us.
The nuclear arsenal will save us.
Retribution will save us.
Economic rationalism will save us.
So long as we remember the simple truth that:
peace, humanity and solidarity are the enemy.

Proposition (5)

War, deprivation and injustice causes terrorism rather than the reverse

George Bush declared an unending war on Terror in the wake of September the 11th 2001. If he was serious about ending terrorism he could have shut down the US Army’s School of the Americas in Fort Benning. This School trains Latin American soldiers in combat, counter-insurgency, and counter-narcotics. Graduates of the School are responsible for some of the worst human rights abuses in Latin America.

Non-State terrorism sprouts with injustice, it grows in poverty and it is fertilised by superpower geo-politics.

Proposition (6)

And if we want to end terrorism we must be prepared to forsake war, injustice and gross inequality

Arundhati Roy again

  • “Terrorism is the symptom, not the disease. Terrorism has no country. It’s transnational, as global an enterprise as Coke or Pepsi or Nike. At the first sign of trouble, terrorists can pull up stakes and move their ‘factories’ from country to country in search of a better deal. Just like the multi-nationals.”

If you want to defeat terrorism
then there are some sacrifices which will need to be made.
You’ll have to give up:
excessive privilege
military tyranny overseas,and
police tyranny at home.
In a sentence – “you’ll have to give up violence at home and abroad”-
that is: no more caring conservative death penalties.

There will need to be a more equal sharing of the world’s resources amongst all the people of the world.
By the way Comrades that means no more: poverty,
no more biopiracy,
no more malnutrition,and
no more starvation.

Approved forms of globalisation will consist of the following:
weapons destruction,
disbanding of military forces,
debt forgiveness,
foreign aid,
free flows of labour,
peace keeping,
land mine removal,
peace treaties, and
globalised love.

Well that might get us out of trouble in the short term
but we also have to look after the world’s ecology
we’ve got to avoid:

..and on the way we’ve got to have fun as we care and share and learn to appreciate the other people with whom we share this life raft.

Common cause

If we’re going to build a new world from the ashes of the old
the first thing we have to do is ignore what we’ve been told.
The workers and the workless, the young and very old
will celebrate their union and join the common fold.

We will need to talk to people and to give away our gold
and refuse to join a system where lives are bought and sold.
For those who find they’re hopelessly tied to yesterday
we’ll show the path to victory, that there is another way.

From the city and the country, from women and from men
joined together in the struggle, together we will win.
We’ll pool our strength and disability building mutuality
and bound in our unity we’ll find creative solidarity.

The included and excluded, those marginalised from birth
will come to share resources, to find their place on earth.
Each must give their utmost, as much as they can spare
so we can build a commonwealth for everyone to share.

When people come together, when we march hand in hand
Black and white together will make others understand.
When people join together, rich and poor throughout this land
we’ll show whoever’s watching – we are beyond command.